Archive for the ‘TITLE G’ Category

THE GREEN HORNET [REVIEW 2]

2011/02/11

http://www.greenhornetmovie.net/

USA 2010  Directed by: Michel Gondry  Written by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg  Based on The Green Hornet by: George W. Trendle, Fran Striker  Produced by: Neal H. Moritz  Cinematography by: John Schwartzman  Editing by: Michael Tronick  Music by: James Newton Howard  Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Edward James Olmos, Edward Furlong, Analeigh Tipton, David Harbour, James Franco

So Seth Rogen is a movie star. And he’s made to where he is through a string of formulated comedy roles. Let me rephrase this: he’s made it to stardom by walking through a series of films playing himself. Which is fine, he did what he did. As Woody Allen famously said, “If you cast right, then actors won’t need to act.” And, because of Rogen’s own belief of his star power, he’s decided that he’s got enough audacity to write and produce a feature film. And looking at the resources pool, what better story to tackle than to jump on the bandwagon and reprise a bygone TV series onto the big screen. And, I mean big; so big that the studio had dropped $120 million into making “The Green Hornet.” Otherwise, in Hong Kong, back in the ‘70s, also known as “The Kato Show,” due credit by then an unknown Asian actor named Bruce Lee.

Now we’re getting somewhere. As camp as it was and lasting only just a season, “The Green Hornet” garnered cult status. Not because the show was fantastically scripted or well-played. It simply rode on the shoulders of the lightning-fast, and charismatically enigmatic little Bruce. No one had seen anything like it back then. The kids loved it… Seth Rogen may have been one of those kids. Although probably by a decade later, seeing it on reruns.

The platform was great: a cult show, money to burn, a movie star at the helm (Rogen); add on a few more stars from other parts of the world, and voila, a movie golden egg is laid.

Not quite.

To start, Rogen is not a character actor, he’s a personality. The title character is supposed to be a millionaire mastermind that orchestrated all the fights and heists, and required someone with a bit more depth and believability. Think Christian Bale’s Batman. As a matter of fact, the Green Hornet “is” a carbon copy of Batman. Bruce Wayne (Batman’s alter ego), a billionaire playboy that is a masked vigilante by night. And plug in Kato in place of Batman’s sidekick, Robin, and there’s your springboard TV show. To be precise, both “Batman” and “The Green Hornet” were airing at the same time back in the day as TV series. Both equally kitsch.

Fast forward to today, as producer, looking at what the neighbor’s doing – Nolan’s “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” I’d probably want to jet the other way too. Except, where Rogen knew which road not to head down, he didn’t figure out which way is right. So “The Green Hornet” seemed like a hodge podge of action and reaction, with the missing ingredient of intention.

Seth Rogen wasn’t completely blurred by his fame. Somebody probably told him to curb his enthusiasm and holster his desire to gobble up every second of the hero scene. And so, Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou was called in to play a masterful Kato, an ass-wupping McGuyver – a multitalented gadgets engineer – and a helluva coffeemaker. I suppose it’s a good way to get away from Bruce Lee’s version, who was just a butler with really, really cool moves. But, again, the formula didn’t work here. No Asian sensation worked well playing in the Hollywood sandbox, aside from Jackie Chan doing silly comedy routines. But Jay Chou’s Kato wasn’t supposed to be silly. Sometimes, he reminded me of an Asian Leonardo Dicaprio, with a lot less acting chops and a whole lot more verbal flops.

Adding to this confusion cuisinema is Cameron Diaz as Rogen’s wishful love interest, who actually fell for Chou (just to be safely non-prejudice). She looked like she’d stepped out of the original TV show – a dozen wrinkles older than both Rogen and Chou put together; her involvement in the whole story was…thinking back, didn’t really need to be there. That’s how much money the studio had coughed up – enough to spill it on an A-list starlet just for laughs. Finally, they thought a serious Oscar-winning foreign heavyweight was needed to round off this bowl of badass: Christoph Waltz. But even his menacing Nazi Doberman fangs from “Inglourious Basterds” didn’t pinch a reaction here. Not one moment was he convincing as an organized crime kingpin on a ruthless path to monopolize the city.

“The Green Hornet” was a continuing series of moments waiting for a punch line that would never surface. Its editing looked far better in the trailers than the actual scenes. The dynamics between its cast were often awkward without development. A few clips of innovative fight sequences got me sitting up, then only put me back down with nonsensical car crashes. And there were lots of them. So, in the end, was this tribute to Bruce Lee, or to the fan-boy fantasy, or just to Rogen’s own ego? Maybe the sequel will tell. Let’s just hope the studio will run out of money for a trilogy.

 

 

 

 

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THE GREEN HORNET [REVIEW 1]

2011/02/09

http://www.greenhornetmovie.com/

USA 2010  Directed by: Michel Gondry  Written by: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg  Based on The Green Hornet by: George W. Trendle, Fran Striker  Produced by: Neal H. Moritz  Cinematography by: John Schwartzman  Editing by: Michael Tronick  Music by: James Newton Howard  Cast: Seth Rogen, Jay Chou, Christoph Waltz, Cameron Diaz, Edward James Olmos, Edward Furlong, Analeigh Tipton, David Harbour, James Franco

THE GREEN HORNET is built around three main premises. First of all, that James Reid is some sort of ass and that Britt Reid is the good guy, what is important for him becoming a credible superhero. Secondly, the friendship or companionship between Britt and Kato: the Green Hornet is essentially a duo, as none of the two can be without the other. Third of all, a strong adversary causing necessary conflict as well as the need for a new superhero in the first place.

Now, THE GREEN HORNET clearly runs into trouble after a few minutes. Take the father-son relationship to begin with: it doesn’t occur to me how anyone can believe that the father is an ass and Britt is the good guy. Clearly, the father is right about everything he does, says or demands from Britt. Britt Reid however is a loser, a guy with no goal in life or motivation, a parasite, pretty much the Paris Hilton of the Reid clan, minus the fragrance and fashion deals. In conclusion, the Britt Reid character as portrayed here is anything but likeable, and his transformation into an incapable hero doesn’t exactly change that first impression (also not after he and the audience learn that his father wasn’t as much of an ass as we all thought).

Then, the Britt-Kato thing doesn’t work out at all: I am amazed how little effort has been spent on clarifying their relationship in the first place. The story goes something like this: Britt fires most of his father’s staff after his untimely death, discovers that his coffee looks different one morning, asks for the guy who usually makes his coffee (Kato), and demands him to come back. So what could be more logical than Kato, a highly capable inventor and martial artist who doesn’t know Britt at all at this point, comes back right away to live happily ever after as chief barista of that couch potato? Once the first coffee is served, we all come to realize how great a guy Kato is and Britt convinces him, for no obvious reason, to become his sidekick. Again, who’d want to be the sidekick of a fat brat? Ouch. This is, without any doubt, some of the worst scriptwriting I have seen in a while.

Last but absolutely not least, the Chudnofsky character never develops into the great villain he could have been. Once again the script and its character development are a huge letdown, introducing Chudnofsky with verve and esprit in his first scene (which is also the only memorable scene of Christoph Waltz, unfortunately), only to dismantle the character quickly through an array of idiotic scenes, turning a potentially charismatic villain into a one-dimensional decal. I’d like to think that this is not Mr. Waltz’s fault, but that the actions and dialogue as defined by the script simply gave him little room to play that character any better than he has.

What makes things even worse is a range of further pitfalls, namely Seth Rogen and Cameron Diaz. We all know that THE GREEN HORNET is first and foremost a Seth Rogen film now, and that shows (but not in the right way): as much as I like Mr. Rogen’s earlier work he tries to adapt the Green Hornet to Seth Rogen, instead of adopting his trademark character to the Green Hornet. The result is that Mr. Rogen’s interpretation of the Hornet makes the film look like a spoof, not the quirky hero-anti-hero tale it’s supposed to be. And there is a fine, but distinct line between a comedic vigilante movie and a spoof. THE GREEN HORNET however never gets it right.

Also not with the help of the ever-overacting Cameron Diaz who could come right from the set of THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY. In fact, many of Ms. Diaz’ scenes seem like first takes, and that also goes for a considerable number of scenes throughout the film.

Altogether that makes for a mediocre movie, a viewing experience that is spoilt by frequent annoyances and incoherence throughout, an impression no punch line, action sequence or set piece can reverse. THE GREEN HORNET is like a high-speed train without a train driver, racing full-steam on the wrong track into the wrong direction from beginning to end, without ever looking back or noticing that about nothing is right and everything’s wrong.

THE GREEN HORNET acts big, but tanks big time. It aims to be larger-than-life entertainment, but ends up a record-breaking waste of budget and resources, one of the most remarkable cases ever seen in contemporary cinema. The only reason no one notices is because it makes money nevertheless.

J.


 

 

 

GOTHIC AND LOLITA PSYCHO [GOSURORI SHOKEININ | ゴスロリ処刑人]

2011/01/14

http://www.ponycanyon.co.jp/galp/

JAPAN 2010  Directed by: Go Ohara  Written by: Hisakatsu Kuroki  Produced by: Jun Nakajima, Hiroyuki Sasaki Cast: Rina Akiyama, Ruito Aoyagi, Asami, Yukihide Benny, Satoshi Hakuzen, James Mark, Misaki Momose, Fumie Nakajima, Masahiro Okamoto, Minami Tsukui, Yurei Yanagi

Now that’s entertainment. It’s almost as if GOTHIC & LOLITA PSYCHO wanted to prove that funny isn’t the same as silly (see CHANBARA STRIPTEASE). Rina Akiyama plays a young woman whose mother is killed by ruthless assassins, causing her to go on a killing spree herself dressed up as a gothic lolita avenger. Needless to say that her crazy dress comes with equally crazy weaponry…ready to deliver a one-of-a-kind death penalty to the villains.

Everything CHANBARA STRIPTEASE was missing is beautifully intact in GOTHIC & LOLITA PSYCHO. It’s a tongue-in-cheek rollercoaster ride with over-the-top carnage and mayhem, but it also always keeps a healthy distance to the on-screen violence – a constant smirk is hovering above the flick from beginning to end. And with the thematic outfits GOTHIC & LOLITA PSYCHO seems like a Halloween party gone wrong, but makes very creative use of one of Japan’s most favorite pop culture icons.

Equipped with lethal umbrellas and more Rina Akiyama looks like the Harajuku version of Emma Peel, slicing and dicing her way through enemy lines. School uniforms are so 1980’s – leave that to the YoYo Girl Cops. Here comes the GOTHIC & LOLITA PSYCHO: glam and gore are never far apart, and the beautiful dress and inventive equipment make for a playful, quirky heroine you’ll instantly fall in love with.

Go Ohara’s take on J pop culture, gore flicks and “tribal” insignia is fresh and entertaining, beating other flicks by a mile. Add to that comparably good special effects, camerawork and editing, and you’re in for a great movie night. GOTHIC & LOLITA PSYCHO may have stayed under the radar a bit, but make no mistake: it’s bloodier and better than many of the other wannabe genre sensations.

With the pedal to the metal from beginning to end GOTHIC & LOLITA PSYCHO keeps what others promise. Best consumed on Friday, or Monday, evening.

J.